(This story really happened to me in August of 1984, exactly as told. I wrote this back then.)
There it was, before me, rising majestically out of the infinite white sands of the Sahara desert, towering over the green foliage of the narrow Nile valley, as it has for probably over twelve and a half thousand years. Behind it, appearing even higher, was the pyramid of Cheops’ successor, Kephren. And behind that, the lesser, but still impressive mass of Kephren’s successor, Mykerinos. Awesome. Beautiful. Though I had seen a hundred pictures of this view, none had caused my heart to pound as it now did.
Within minutes our tour bus would be swallowed into this complex of giants and I would step fourth and manifest one of my dearest and, I had thought, remotest fantasies.
But what was this? The bus was not stopping. We had passed the Great Pyramid, and the second, and now we were heading out into the desert. I looked in panic to my traveling companion, Jerry. We were seated in the rear of the bus and watching through the back window as the picture of our dreams slowly shrank. We prepared to give way to outrage. “Stop!” Our hearts screamed silently. To our relief, our guide explained that the bus would stop at the approaching high mound of sand where we could capture some photos of the excellent view there, and then proceed back down to the Great Pyramid. “Patience,” I considered. “Perhaps this was best – to pause at a distance and reflect.”
Stepping off the bus, Jerry and I were immediately confronted with a wall of local Arab men, in full dress, offering camel rides, post cards and distilled water. We tried to move around them so as to see the view, but they merely moved along side of us, blocking that view. That was their strategy. They would talk and talk and prevent us from seeing anything until we either gave in to their soliciting or got back on the bus. Few of us had ventured off the bus anyway, and I was about to give up in frustration when one of the younger Arab men cornered me and insisted I should mount his camel so he could take my picture. He had his camel kneel down for mounting and I could see there in the distance, the three pyramids lined up in near ecliptic fashion. A classic view! I had to have a picture of me in it.
“How much?” I asked.
“Oh, it ‘s not important, ” the young man enthusiastically assured me, grinning from ear to ear.
“You’ll want something, no?” I bargained.
“Don’t worry, ” he insisted, “you get on my camel. I just want you to be happy.” He continued to smile happily. “I take your picture.”
“But you’ll want some money. How much?” I was getting impatient.
“The money is not important. Really. I just want you to be happy.”
“You don’t care about the money?” I asked, knowing better.
“It’s not important. I just want you to be happy. Really.” He was so convincing and so happy himself.
“Not important?” I asked uneasily.
“No. No. You get on. I take your picture. Then you give what you feel. I know you will be happy. Ok?”
“I pay you what I feel?” I tested him.
“Yes, yes. Come. You will be happy.”
I handed him my camera and mounted the camel. Wearing an Arab headdress, which I had purchased earlier, I raised the camel drive stick into the air and when the camel stood up I became Lawrence of Arabia, above the crowd, stalking the Great Pyramids. What a picture that would be to show the folks back home.
I dismounted and reached into my pocket, pulling out two Egyptian pounds, all the money I had left on me. I felt happy, so I handed it to the still-smiling young man. He took it in his hands and looked at it. His happy face now turned serious, his lip slightly pouting. His eyes turned to me and he asked, “You’re not happy?”
His delivery was perfect. I had to admire his style.
“Yes I’m happy. Very,” I assured him and headed for the bus. He followed me all the way, repeating, “You’re not happy. You’re not happy.” Finally, as I reached the door, I convinced him my pockets were empty. His sour face turned back to its former happy grin and slapping my back, he wished me a good trip.
As I stepped up into the bus, a few of my fellow passengers were applauding. I had become sort of a hero, venturing out into the throng of hustlers. One lady commented that I had looked like Jesus up there, with my beard and flowing, long hair. Our guide asked me how much I had paid the man.
“Two pounds,” I said
“Huh,” he sighed, “they usually get only a pound.”
“That guy”, I thought, “he knew I was happy.”
Now the bus headed back to the Great Pyramid and as it circled around in the parking area, we could see an even larger throng of locals and camels converging toward us. “Oh god, not again!” The passengers sat frozen, debating in their minds whether it was worth the trouble. Our guide then announced that the bus would be leaving in half an hour.
Again I looked to Jerry in panic. “No way!” His eyes assured mine. We knew we would have to hold up the bus.
It took some maneuvering to get through all the Arab hustlers. They were like flies. Postcards, water, camels, photos, and now guides. We didn’t need a guide – – just room to move.
We ran to the base of the Pyramid. It was so huge. Thirteen acres across its base, 201 stepped tiers to the height. Two and a half million blocks of limestone and granite weighing from two to seventy tons each. The ratio of its circumference to its height exactly equals the mathematical Pi (3.14)
We climbed up the carved-out stairway to the entrance. Two older men in Arab dress were taking tickets. We didn’t have tickets. We had to go back down the opposite side of the parking lot, a long way, and purchase our tickets at the booth there. Again we waded through the hustlers, time slipping by quickly in the great heat of this late summer afternoon.
The tickets cost thee Egyptian pounds. Neither of us had any pounds left. Jerry had a travelers check in US dollars. They didn’t take dollars, just pounds. It was unbelievable. Everywhere in Egypt everyone was eager to take US dollars. Everywhere but this ticket booth. A half-hour was almost gone.
Well it just happened that there were local Arabs hanging around the parking lot willing to do a little illegal trading of currency, at various exchange rates. So we started asking.
Now, Jerry is one of those people who really enjoys haggling for a good deal. I’d seen him do it several times in Israel, in Hebrew even. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when he started roaming from vendor to vendor wasting precious time over a few nickels. Here we were, the Great Pyramid, looming over us, beckoning our approach, and he’s haggling. Finally he found a deal he could live with and we went and got our tickets. Now the half-hour was surely gone.
We ran back up to the pyramid entrance but once again two old guys stopped us. What now?
“No pictures.” One said assertively. We both had cameras in our pockets. I assured him we would not use our cameras.
“No cameras” said the other.
I promised. They shook their heads. I wanted to scream.
“Wait here,” I said to Jerry, and taking his camera, I ran back to the bus, the only safe place to put them. When I reached the bus, over half of the people were already waiting to go. I wondered if they had even gotten off the bus, as I ran back to the entrance, my heart was pounding in the heat of the sun. This time they waved us through, and then we stepped into the Great Pyramid interior passageways.
The passageways were steep, narrow and low so that we had to stoop and make room for the steady stream of tourists descending the steep incline in the opposite direction. A long and narrow plank with evenly spaced footholds had been placed over the otherwise smooth and slippery stone floor. The climb was cramped and clumsy amidst the dank interior and humid perspiration of our bodies. After some time the passageway opened up into the Grand Gallery, the ceiling rising to nearly 30 feet, the sides widening out so that there was room for two separate paths, one up and own down.
I was eager to reach our goal at the top, the King’s Chamber, the most powerful place in the pyramid. My studies had told me this had been more that a tomb for a dead king. It had been a mysterious temple, a secret temple, used by adepts for initiation into the mystic knowledge to which few humans had ever aspired. Many of the great and inspiring figures of human history had given hints of participating in this mystery during their lives. The pyramid had watched the lives of Mohammed, Plato, Jesus, David, Buddha, and even Moses, come and go. Moses had been raised among the pharaohs, who themselves were the keepers of the priestly secrets of Egypt. This pyramid in some way, no doubt, influenced him.
And now, here I was. Climbing toward the central chamber of this greatest of pyramids, built at the exact center of all the land masses of the earth, by people who had realized the roundness of the planet and established the circumference of this globe and embedded it into the dimensions of this structure long before our written history even began. And no doubt they were fully familiar with the mysterious energy producing geometry of these monuments, an effect, which modern scientists are only beginning to explore, but which could possibly have been a key to legendary initiation rites in the king’s chamber. It was in that chamber that the initiate might have experienced the ritualistic crucifixion and resurrection symbolized in the mythical phoenix bird.
I lowered my eyes, and before me was a horizontal passage, small and narrow like one we had just ascended. It led to the Queens Chamber. Just before proceeding to the final King’s Chamber, it is believed that initiates would come into the presence of the nurturing energy of the Great Mother, or feminine side of god. I had wanted to go there first, just to keep things in the proper order, but a metal gate blocked the passage. I was briefly disappointed, but Jerry hurried me on upward, so I followed in eager anticipation.
Arriving at the top we found a low and narrow opening to another chamber, so we stooped and went through. This was the small antechamber preceding the very large King’s Chamber. We paused here, and I took the opportunity to center myself and be open to any blessing that might be in store for me ahead. With high hopes for some personal experience, I stooped again to enter the King’s Chamber.
I’m not sure what hit me first. Probably the stench. It was the urine, strong, like a neglected men’s room at a gas station. It was repulsive.
Next, I was confronted by more local hustlers, asking my name, my language. Did I need a guide? There were five of them, young, and they spread out amongst Jerry, me and a couple of other tourists. They talked constantly, filling the room with their chattering echoes. One clung to me. He wouldn’t leave me alone just to look around and absorb the room, the experience.
It was a large empty room with one piece of stone at one end, an empty granite sarcophagus, chipped at the corners. I walked toward it hoping to shake off the hustler, but he stuck with me, chattering always.
The other two tourists left. They, like most, had climbed all this way to find a large, humid, stinking, empty room, filled with hustlers who hounded them ’til they either forked up money or left. Most left quickly, but a few, as these young Arab men counted on, were naive enough to pay out money for their amateurish tour of the room.
Now, three of them had me trapped behind the sarcophagus, up against the wall, my hands out to my sides. All three were chattering at me.
I was bummed out. Disillusioned. Deflated. I had come expecting, perhaps, some small mystical phenomenon to happen to me, and instead three hustlers were crucifying me against the wall. Their eyes, hungry for my submission, betrayed their seemingly friendly demeanor, as they chattered on and on.
I was about to cave in, to leave in complete disgust and rejection of any respect for this pyramid, or Egypt for that matter, when the thought of Christ entered my mind. I seized on it, and closing my eyes, asked Spirit: “What can I do?”
Immediately the answer came.
I glared at the three ‘guides’ and dramatically announced: “You know what I want? You know what I really want?!”
They went silent, ready to answer any question, do any service, for a price. I lowered my voice to a whisper, “I just want to be left alone to meditate.” Then I closed my eyes, leaned back against the wall and tried to drift inward.
They were silent. After one minute I wasn’t sure if they were there anymore. I opened my left eye to look. Immediately they began to chatter again. I snapped my eye shut. Silence.
This time they must have given up, because it stayed quiet near me, but I heard their voices added to those that had been pestering Jerry across the room.
Again, I asked Spirit for help, and as I became centered inside and relaxed, my breathing slowed. I felt an impulse to sound out a clear and lengthy AUM or Aaaooouuummm.
Now, this chamber had to be designed with chanting in mind because the walls reverberated my rounded vowel note so perfectly that I was immediately caught up in it, and continuing to chant, began to lose awareness of the other voices and people. My heart started to lift.
Then more tourists entered the room, babbling and stirring around so that I was distracted. Immediately, the smell or urine reentered my awareness and when I opened my eyes I was looking down into the sarcophagus with a now clear view of the urine inside. I was bummed again. “I’m only kidding myself,” I thought. “I’m trying to make something of nothing. I might as well leave.”
I headed toward the entranceway, figuring Jerry would follow, but as I crossed the room, so did he, in the opposite direction, not seeing me leaving. The Arabs followed him. So I leaned up against the wall again. This time facing the opposite side where I had been. I left my eyes open, staring at Jerry, and began to breathe again. The other tourists had left now, leaving us to the hustlers.
Jerry had found his way to the sarcophagus, his weight leaning on his arms, his eyes looking down into it. He had found the urine and I could guess his thoughts.
Again the impulse to chant came through me, and I let out a nice long AUM followed be a deep inhale and another AUM. Again the room filled with the sound.
Now I focused on sending Jerry a thought. “Chant,” I said to him through my mind, “Join me. Chant, join me, chant…”
Within a minute, without looking up at me, he backed up against the wall, directed his eyes into mine and began matching my chant.
The Arabs stood silent, gazing back and fourth at us, as our chanting dominated the room with a clear vibration. And after a minute or two, to our delight, they left the chamber, all of them. Jerry and I were beaming at each other. We had done it. We had raised the vibrations and taken the room to ourselves. The King’s Chamber was ours.
Suddenly the Arabs returned, silently watching us, curios look on their faces. Their unexpected reappearance threw off our chanting and we stopped. Jerry and I signaled to each other that perhaps we had better head for the waiting bus and be glad that we had at least a small experience to remember. We felt high.
As I headed for the entrance, one of the Arabs approached as if to hustle me again. I raised my hands, open palmed, to my shoulders and said: “I have nothing to give you, but love.” Then I stooped down and left. Jerry followed.
I started to climb down the Gallery, and realized that I didn’t feel right. I wanted to go back. I stopped and turned around and saw that Jerry had stopped, too. He said to me; “We’re not finished,” implying that I had already had the same thought. So we climbed back up and re-entered the King’s Chamber.
To our amazement, the five men were applauding our return enthusiastically, their faces no longer as hustlers, but like children, pleased to continue a fun game. The two older ones approached me and asked what we had been doing. I explained a little about the origin of the AUM sound and its basic vibratory effect as a calling of God’s presence.
They were sincerely interested, and so open to knowing that I was inspired to open my arms and ask them to join me in trying it out. Without hesitation, they took my hands and we stood in a circle, the six of us. Jerry decided to stand outside the circle against the wall. I let out a good long AUM and soon the others joined me. Jerry, too. The younger men giggled a little, feeling awkward but soon we had all found our breath and a natural pitch and the chamber was filled with a strong harmonic AUMing.
We heard someone approaching outside. I prepared myself for the interruption of tourists. Soon a head popped in. It was an American man. He looked like he had just come from India, wearing a robe with Hindu/Buddhist beads around his neck. To my surprise, and probably to his, when he realized what was happening, he stepped right into the circle and began chanting with us, his face revealing the astonished pleasure of this dream.
Our spirits soared like eagles, circling around with the rhythm of the chanting. It was glorious! The perfectness of that moment became crystal clear in my consciousness. There we were: Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist and perhaps more, in an ancient room that had preceded the birth of all these religions and felt their conflicts for centuries outside its walls. Yes, there we were, joined in fellowship; each aware that some holy spirit had joined us together in a symbolic experience of brotherhood that none of us would likely forget.
When we landed, when our chanting had found a natural conclusion, the two older men stepped toward me, our hands folded in one another’s, their eyes soft, their brows reverent and said: “Thank you, thank you” with deep appreciation.
I answered, “No, thank YOU, thank YOU.” Together we raised our eyes upward, acknowledging that our real praise belonged to the Creator, and we dropped our hands knowing it was complete, knowing that it was perfect.
I looked at Jerry and we both knew it was time to go to our waiting bus. So we dashed down the passageways, ran out of the Great Pyramid, across the parking lot and into the bus which had been full and waiting with engine running for I don’t know how long. Everyone was obviously angry and as I went to my seat the lady who had earlier compared me to Jesus on the camel now icily scolded, “A lot of people have been waiting for you!” It didn’t matter. We were too high and they had missed it all.
I can’t say, definitely, that the ‘energy’ of the pyramid played an integral role in what happened that day. I am certain, however, that the ‘energy’ intensifies or enhances whatever is created, serves as an amplifier. I have only this small first hand experience to go by.
And the following: The next day, I broke away from Jerry and my tour bus group and returned to the Great Pyramid alone. I climbed to the King’s Chamber and found no hustlers there. I sat down in the lotus position in the very center of the room and began to meditate and chant.
Normally, when I sat in lotus position, legs crossed and spine erect, my back would begin to ache within ten minutes, twenty at the most. I would start to slump, my hands falling behind me and my legs stretching out. Usually I’d move against the wall.
This time however, the acoustics were so perfect, that I was swept up into them, with no thought of my back, and hardly aware of the steams of tourists who now remained mostly quiet and reverent as they wandered through the room. In fact, by the end of the day, when the flow of tourists had slowed to a trickle, allowing me long periods of solitude and deep concentration, I lost nearly all sensation of my body.
At last, during one of these periods, flashes of lightning streaked across my minds field of vision. My heart skipped with sudden excitement. Thoughts returned. “Was this the beginning of some transcending experience? Would I now be separated out of my body and projected through the apex of the pyramid? Could it really be possible that some how initiation was going to be given to me?”
Drunken by these thoughts, I determined to clear them from my mind, but to no avail. Anxiety had grabbed hold and I opened my eyes. What disillusionment! The ceiling lights were being flickered off and on by the old guys down at the entrance to let me know that it was closing time. I remained chanting and laughing at myself until one of them finally came up, clapped his hands, and ordered me to leave. So I left, knowing that the real transcending had occurred the day before.
It was only later that I realized I had sat erect in lotus position for three and a half hours, feeling no ache at all. If I hadn’t been told to leave, I would have continued to sit there, lifting my voice to the Heavens, in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.